Here begins a saga; the culmination of weeks of paper-chasing, faxing, emailing, phone-calling, banking, documenting, insuring and talking taxes. There is a lot to this. I did not know how deeply involved I would get into the process, but I am glad I did. It'll certainly help when the eventual "we have to sell her now" day rolls around (hopefully a long time from now). Since I opted not to engage a broker for myself, it was a huge learning process. Luckily I was surrounded by some good (and honest) people and the folks involved were very meticulous to make certain that when the delivery day finally rolled around there would be absolutely no questions about clear title, insurance, financing and ownership. Some pieces were overly legalistic, I think but in the long run I am glad I sought out professional maritime legal counsel and that the contract process was so thoroughly worked through. This is a big-ticket item; we are rolling all our dice and are all-in with this. To make a big mistake would be devastating.
He graciously gave us a tour of the area showing us the amazing 'Mansions of Newport' area. With our extra time we too drove around and scouted some cool places to visit. On the second day of the visit we informed Richard that were serious about a purchase and would strongly consider this boat. ... then we left. ... Then we went back ...
Our second visit was much like the first. Even though we 'sort-of' knew our way around a little, it was still foreign territory; both geographically and from the buyer/broker part. The boat was still covered in shrink-wrap and winterized for the cold weather (and at 14 degrees, it was pretty darned cold). We visited some more, formulated and asked more questions, got more history and got more comfortable with the idea of owning a boat that was a> quite a bit bigger than we had originally planned and 2>quite a bit more expensive than we'd originally planned. Still, we had a heart for this make and model having become familiar with another one just like it, only older, down in Annapolis.
A few months earlier we'd visited a smaller version of this boat and liked it really well. As a matter of fact both Robin and I were rather upset when we found out it had been sold to someone else (even though we weren't ready to make an offer, we still liked it well enough to be disappointed that it was no longer available for us to consider). I think that was the day we realized that we liked this brand enough to settle in on it and find one for us. We enjoyed our time with Richard and the new boat and thought about it even harder. Then we left.
A couple of days later I emailed an offer, it was countered and we accepted it. Then the wheels began spinning!
We returned to Newport to oversee the survey (where the boat is inspected by a professional familiar with the model) and to begin setting up contract pieces.
We had to get enough stuff on board to permit us to travel from Newport, RI to Deale, MD. This would be a relatively easy 3 day trip (so we thought) but we needed to prepare for very cold running. We shopped for cold weather gear, which is counter-intuitive to going sailing in the tropics, and waited for a hole in the storms to show itself so we could bring her down. We waited .... and waited ... and waited ... but it was one storm right after the other. To make the best of it, we secured an early occupancy agreement and made a truck-load trip from Virginia to come start claiming the space. It was fun, it was cold .. actually, it was pretty miserable in the snowstorms but it was nonetheless fun thinking about what we were doing.
Then, we fell down ...
After having made numerous trips from the truck to the boat and back, and after having spent 3 or 4 days on this most recent trip we were getting pretty used to the cycle of a snowy blizzard followed by rain followed by a teaser of blue sky. Wash, rinse repeat for a week. .. On this particular day, it had cleared out and a lot of snow had melted from the dock and we'd been happily loading bins aboard while not having to trudge delicately on the frozen path cut out by the snow blower.
Important to note that the step off of the back of the boat is just about the same height as the dock. There is about 18 inches of open space (into the water) between the dock and the boat and we'd been cautiously but confidently making that step in the worst of weather. On this occasion, the dock looked clear and dry but was actually coated with black ice. With my arms loaded I stepped from the boat and onto the icy dock with my right foot which promptly shot out from under me. My left leg raked the edge of the dock wood from ankle-to-knee and the fall absolutely knocked the air from lungs with pain. I knew Robin was behind me, but I could not speak to say the simple word "ice" to warn her and she stepped out after me and fell as well. Now we were both down on the dock, at night and injured. I could not move much and did not know how bad the injury might be yet.
It took a few minutes, but we both got our wits about us and struggled to our feet and quite literally skated back to the truck, The dock had frozen again and was treacherously slippery all the way along. Thankfully, Robin was not dinged up as badly as I was but nonetheless it was going to be a sore morning for both of us. My injury developed into a rather serious infection which I am still battling some 10 weeks later. Robin suffered some bruising and scrapes but was thankfully spared the infection part. Then .. I left. I had to go to work, after all. Boy was it an uncomfortable few days.
OK; when all this was said and done, and April was fast coming upon us, it was time to move the boat. We elected to take on a 4th crewmember because it eased the watch rotation and we left Newport at 8 A.M. on 3/29/14 after having fueled up and filed the water tank the day before.
Robin, Richard, John and myself set out for a 360 nautical mile journey that would take us out of the Newport harbor, past Block Island and out into the Atlantic. We would pass east of Long Island and enter the Delaware Bay, rounding at Cape May, NJ. From there we would head north up the Bay until it becomes the Delaware River and cross through the Chesapeake and Delaware Canal (C&D) and enter the Chesapeake east of Wilmington, DE. After that it was a straight (well pretty much) run south on the Chesapeake to enter Herring Bay and our marina; Herrington Harbor North..
The morning was beautiful and perfectly calm ... and freezing cold (again). Even as early as the 2nd hour I was fully appreciating the money we'd spent on top end cold weather gear. There was some warming by the sun, but that would soon run away with the approaching front. We left the bay south of Providence and headed into open water. This would take us a bit farther from shore than we'd been before and was to be our longest non-stop run ever. We've boon out on open water in both the Pacific and the Atlantic, and we've been aboard for a longer stretch, but this was to be our first actual 'passage'. Exciting :)
It clouded up and started to rain in the early afternoon and the wind was finicky for a while so we motor-sailed along making 8 knots some times. Then it began to rain steadily and the wind seemed to stabilize and increase so we ran some sails for a while. The waves increased and the rain started to become 'driving' so we knew we were into a bit of a storm system. It (the storm system) continued to develop overnight and it was a genuine Nor'easter before too long. I think everything would've gone so much better if we would've waited a week, but we had what we had (time off work, end of the dock lease and the availability of Richard and John. I am not a fan of 'get-there-itis' because it most often leads to trouble, and in this case we were inconvenienced by some rough weather, but never threatened. In fact it worked out for the best.
The first night was rolly and tippy and we sailed with strong winds and a good amount of 'heel' which made sleeping comfortably quite impossible. We were on 3 hour 'watches' at the helm and my watch was from 3 to 6 (A.M. or P.M. Between watches you were expected to rest and pretty much nothing more except find food and maybe take care of minor chores. It worked out pretty well for a first crack at passage life, although I must again mention that it was just plain cold all the time and I couldn't wait to get snuggled into the sleeping bag and warm up.
Finally some peace and quiet and I handed off the helm to Richard to take us through.
We opted to stop for fuel, not because we really needed fuel, but because a short break would be really nice. Then we ran ever so softly aground in the shallow marina at low tide and had to wait an hour or so to get lifted the extra couple of inches we needed to proceed in :). Fueled and ready for the last leg, Robin motored us out of the canal and south down the Chesapeake where it was finally a sunny and warmer experience (actually into the 40's!).
Crossing under the Chesapeake Bay Bridge is a pretty cool thing considering the times we'd driven over it and looked at boats below
. Now we knew we were getting looked at, maybe with envy and maybe as foolhardy but it didn't matter. It was a kind of 'coming full circle' moment and it also meant that the home gate was soon at hand.
We got in just at dark and were tied up at a temporary dock by 8 P.M. ... mission accomplished!
Thinking back, I am so very glad we had the rough weather on this trip, with the watchful eye of the captain and previous owner who knew both the route and the boat. The trip served to demonstrate to us, as no sea trial could, how well built and stable and solid this boat really is. Twelve foot seas, 40 knots of wind and driving rain and we stayed dry, on course and confident. This was probably the best way it could've happened and I am sure we have been shown that we can trust this vessel to go where we want to go. If we do our best to avoid the rough stuff, we may not have to demonstrate the real capabilities of the boat but if something comes up and we get into big water and nasty conditions we know now that she is up to the task and will shake it off and pull us through. That is what she was built for after all :)
Delivery complete; now we begin moving aboard and preparing to set sail!!